How embarrassing can the Pittsburgh mayoral election get?
To answer that question, you must go to the op-ed page of the Post-Gazette this morning.
Recently, the newspaper asked the campaigns to have supporters of the three mayoral candidates write columns on their behalf.
It seemed an earnest exercise. Who knew it would be such a revealing public spectacle, albeit one with the potential to make alert Pittsburghers laugh until they cry (or perhaps cry until they laugh)?
The standard was first set Wednesday when the piece written to support Kevin Acklin was written by Dan Acklin, his uncle ("Vote for My Nephew," Oct. 28). Reading this, an average reader might wonder if Kevin Acklin had any supporter not related to him who could offer a credible opinion. But who needs supporters like that when you have family?
This was a hard act to follow. It would require a really good public display of op-ed incest to top.
Unfortunately, Franco Dok Harris did not enter into the spirit of the occasion. He did not recruit a relative with the same name, not even a famous one, to write a piece for him. His oped ("Vote for Harris," Oct. 29) was written by Justin Strong, a local entrepreneur. How credible could he be when he was not identified as a member of Dok's family?
Not to worry. The piece this morning written on behalf on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was a classic in the Pittsburgh-family school of politics ("Re-elect Luke as Mayor"). It was written by Cindy Ravensthal, Luke's mom, the very woman who gave him his first juice box.
It contains a wonderful paragraph, the like of which has not been seen since Patti Burns and Bill Burns used to co-host the KDKA news at noon - the famously corny Patti and Daddy Show, which set off gagging reflexes all across the city.
Luke's Mom writes: "From the time he was little, Luke has known the value of money. When I would give him a dollar to go to the candy store, he didn't waste all of it getting candy for one day, he would stretch that dollar so that he could have himself candy for a week. I've watched proudly as my son carries those same principles into running the city."
This is not a knock on Mrs. Ravensthal. I am sure she is wonderful woman and means well.
No, this is a knock on those in the Ravensthal campaign - and the Acklin campaign - for threatening people in Pittsburgh with dry heaving and skin crawling up the arm due to chronic civic embarrassment.
Do they really think there is political advantage in treating the people around here like a bunch of overly-sentimental rubes?